This Sri Lankan train journey has been quoted as the most scenic journey in the world! We wanted to check this out for ourselves and so made our way from Sigiriya down to Kandy.
Worth the hype?
YES. In our opinion, the journey entirely lived up to expectations. The views really are jaw dropping from the windows and doorways.
One moment it's tea plantations, local villages and greenery for miles, to huge cliff drops, dense forest and even ocean glimpses.
Where can I board the train?
We boarded the train at Kandy station, Kandy station is very central making it easy to get to from all hotels in Kandy. The train runs throughout Sri Lanka, with the Kandy to Ella stretch being the most interesting and scenic part.
What stop should I get off at?
Many riding the train in the Kandy to Ella direction do the entire stint in one go, however there are many stops along the way that serve locals and other tourist points.
Hatton - we found this to be a busy station with many tea plantations here. This would a quieter experience than some of the busier Hill Country destinations.
Nurawa Eliya - this is a popular stop for many tourists. It is about half way between Kandy and Ella taking around 3-4 hours from Kandy. Many break up the trip to Ella by stopping here and experiencing some of the tea plantations and surrounding areas, with enough to keep you busy for 2-3 days.
Ella - Usually, this is the final destination for tourists wanting to spend time in the Hill Country.
Do I need to buy in advance?
We purchased our tickets directly at the station on the same day we were travelling. You can try and pre-book through your hotel or by visiting the station the day before you intend to travel. We would recommend pre-booking if you wish travel 1st class, otherwise same-day purchasing should be no problem.
Which class of ticket should I buy?
1st Class - the only air-conditioned section of the train with a dedicated seat. The windows do not open so can limit photo opportunities. You can book these tickets also through Exporail.
2nd Class - We bought 2nd class tickets and were happy with our choice. It was very hot outside but surprisingly not too bad in the carriage, there were a few fans in each carriage which helped, all the windows and doors were open with a good breeze. For the first 40 minutes we stood as there were lots of people that boarded at Kandy, however managed to get seat for the remainder of our journey. We weren't too bothered as we were back and forth from the open door as the photo opportunities were too awesome!
3rd Class - You may be sat with chickens, but it is the ultimate local experience! We didn't experience ourselves but through talking with other travellers expect some bad smells and uncomfortable seating.
How much do the tickets cost?
1st - Ranges pending company booked with, expect to pay between 1000 LKR and 3000 LKR ($8– $25 AUD) 2nd – 400 rupees ($3 AUD) 3rd – 200 rupees ($1.50 AUD)
Where is the best place to sit?
No matter what side you sit on you will have awesome views, but if you want the BEST views the entire way then:
Sit on the right side of the train from Kandy – Ella
Sit on the left side of the train from Nuwara Eliya to Ella
If you can, find an empty doorway and admire the views, being careful at times as the rocks either side can get rather close.. we saw a few selfie sticks almost get taken out! TT Tips:
Get one of the earlier trains so you see the scenery the whole way. There are trains that depart later in the day and in to the evening too but you'll miss a lot when it gets dark!
Take hand sanitizer! You will no doubt need the loo on this long journey and the water didn't work.
Take snacks and drinking water for the journey. There are local vendors that board the train to sell handmade sweets and treats if you get stuck.
All opinions are our own on TwosomeTravellers blog